South San Francisco, CA April 9, 2021 by Garden Chapel Funeral Directors
Gene Mullin passed peacefully at his home on April 5, 2021 in the company of his immediate family. A native of San Francisco born to the late Eugene A. and Ruth Mullin, he was predeceased in 2017 by his loving wife of 52 years, Terri, and by his dear sister, Linda Parrish, in 2020. He is survived by his children, Jennifer Fisher (David) and Kevin Mullin (Jessica), and five grandsons: Austin, Jonathan and Colton Fisher, Liam and Landon Mullin. He leaves behind many nieces, nephews and other family members who will miss him dearly.
He was a third-generation Californian, born in 1937, and he graduated from Riordan High School and the University of San Francisco. He was honored by Riordan in 2010 as its first Alumnus of the Year, representing the 1950s, and by USF’s School of Education as its Alumnus of the Year in 2011. Gene taught social studies at South San Francisco High School for 32 years, being named San Mateo County Teacher of the Year in 1991. He also coached basketball for two decades, and taught a summer program at Sacramento State University for more than ten years. He was active in the California Teachers Association for more than 30 years, and served as President of the SSF CTA. He co-authored several books on local government, co-wrote educational videos on a variety of social science topics, and frequently contributed opinion pieces to the local press. He was a six year veteran of the US Army Reserves.
In his 40 year political career, he was a two-term Council member and twice Mayor of South San Francisco, and a three-term member of the California State Assembly (2002-2008) where, among other assignments, he chaired the Assembly Education Committee. He was fondly referred to as the “Cal Ripkin of the Assembly”, as he was the only member to never miss a scheduled committee hearing or floor session during his entire Sacramento tenure. He was named Legislator of the Year by over two dozen organizations while in Sacramento.
While Gene was well known as a teacher, coach, distinguished public servant and community leader, he held a fascinating array of jobs earlier in his career. He was a dealer, shill and lifeguard at Cal-Neva Lodge at stateline Lake Tahoe, a joke writer for Phyllis Diller when she appeared at Cal-Neva, and a golf caddy for Joe Kennedy (JFK and RFK’s father). He spent time as a ticket agent with Southern Pacific Railroad, a vendor at Kezar Stadium, a brick cleaner, and a private investigator reviewing FBI files, including a case involving the Playboy trademark. He even did a stint opening Willie Mays’ mail and responding on Willie’s behalf.
Gene treasured spending time with his family and his many friends (who occasionally acknowledged his sardonic wit), enjoyed hosting annual gatherings for more than two decades of his fishing group – The Friends of Joe – as well as his annual retired teachers cohorts. He was proud of his 12+ gallon donation to the Peninsula Blood Bank. He and Terri always enjoyed family vacations at their cabins at the Russian River and Lake Tahoe.
Over the years, he was a board member of many community non-profits, including the San Mateo County Historical Society, Ability Path, HIP Housing, the SSF Library Foundation, BayBio, Families on Track, and Seton Medical Center, and he was on the advisory committee for many others.
We’d like to give special thanks to family friend Dr. Dave Caro for his counsel and care in Gene’s final months.
Funeral services private. Gene will be inurned in the family plot at Holy Cross Cemetery. Contributions in memory of Gene may be made to the South San Francisco Community Learning Center via the SSF Library Foundation at https://www.ssfgives.org/donate.